Chris Lacinak, President, AVPreserve and Rebecca Chandler, Consultant, AVPreserve
Organizations ranging from museums to government agencies maintain moving image and sound collections that are used daily for research, education, communication, and the fulfillment of institutional missions. Unfortunately, these collections are often inadequately documented and frequently inaccessible due to various resource constraints, difficulties in capturing relevant data from objects, and the effects of obsolescence and physical degradation.
This chapter discusses the care and handling of physical audiovisual collections, which is an essential component of any preservation strategy. While proper care and handling serve as great tools for combating degradation and damage, they do not address obsolescence in any way. It is clear that preservation and access of information recorded on physical audiovisual media requires digitization. It is also clear that the need is great and that prioritization for digitization over a longer period of time is the reality for many organizations. Until digitization can occur, proper care and handling of the original recording is the primary mechanism of preservation and helps ensure that the information recorded on the physical media will be able to be digitized with the highest degree of integrity possible.
However, even following digitization the need to care for the physical media containing the original recording persists, as it plays an integral role in the overarching preservation strategy of the recording. There are multiple scenarios that may lead to utilizing that physical media post-digitization. These could and have included disasters resulting in loss of the digital copies, critical errors in digitization or digital preservation implementation, or technological improvements that yield significantly better reproduction and digitization. Central to preservation is the concept of risk management and proper care and handling of the original recordings, before and after digitization, greatly mitigates the risk of loss.